home   about   search

biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Sphyrna mokarran (Great hammerhead)

(Rüppell, 1837)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Chondrichthyes > Elasmobranchii > Galeomorphii > Carcharhiniformes > Sphyrnidae

Sphyrna mokarran (Great hammerhead) [Illustration by Ann Hecht ©]


A very large hammerhead with a notch at the centre of head, 1st dorsal very high and curved, 2nd dorsal and pelvic fins high and with deeply concave rear margins. Colour light grey or grey-brown above, white below, fins unmarked.


To over 5.5 m TL.


East coast, northern Natal and Mozambique; circumtropical.



Coastal and offshore, often around coral reefs, from the intertidal to at least 80 m.


Bears 13 to 42 young. Feeds on bony fish, other sharks, rays, and squid.

Human Impact

Considered dangerous, though no attacks recorded here. It may steal speared fish from divers but is often unagressive when encountered underwater. Caught by anglers off kwaZulu, and infrequently by the Natal shark nets.

Text by Leonard J.V. Compagno, David A. Ebert and Malcolm J. Smale